By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Quay County Clerk Ellen White got a surprise this holiday season she’s never seen before — an employee bonus.
“We’ve never gotten bonuses since I’ve been here,” said White, a county employee since 1998. “It was a nice surprise,” White said of the $125 allotted each of the county’s 87 employees, although she said she could not recall what she spent it on.
“It was gone probably the next day.”
Quay County Manager Terry Turner said he had no problem remembering what he did with his extra holiday cash.
“I gave it to my wife, like all obedient spouses,” he laughed.
But seriously, he said, this was a big thing, for this is the first time in years Quay’s budget could afford to give its employees a holiday bonus.
“Previous budgets have been in the red by several hundred thousand dollars,” Turner said. “We tightened up a lot of things.”
He said some of the cutbacks have included revising the county vehicle policy; employees who are not on 24-hour call no longer get to keep and use the vehicles all night, he said, and mileage and fuel are kept under strict accountability.
Turner added another major cost-cutting measure for Quay was snipping out the juvenile detention center. As of Nov. 1, juvenile offenders are now farmed out to Clovis or Texas, which will add up to an annual savings to Quay of approximately $200,000, Turner said.
The total spent on bonuses for the employees this year came to about $11,000, he said.
“We just wanted to say thanks,” Turner said, adding Quay employees have been doing a great job.
To further their incentive to do an even greater job, Turner said, the county is also offering an employee safety bonus to be paid off in the form of a day off during the July 4 holiday weekend.
He said if there are no accidents due to unsafe acts of an employee through June 30, all employees will be getting a safety holiday. He cautioned, however, one unsafe act by a single employee will disqualify the whole bunch.
“There’s a little peer pressure here,” Turner said. “Having no accidents helps our insurance rates go down. It’s cheaper to pay for a day off than to pay for higher insurance rates. We just want them to think safely while they’re at work.”
As far as the goal of the Christmas bonuses, Turner said, “We just wanted to give a little perk, to share a little.”
White added that the surprise stash of cash was so effective with employees like herself that she recommends they do it every year — provided, of course, the budget is kept balanced.
“It’s a way to keep quality employees,” White said of the bonuses. “It brought the morale up a bunch.”